Sunday, December 8, 2013

General Robert E. Lee’s General Orders No. 138


December 31, 1862.

I. The general commanding takes this occasion to express to the officers and soldiers of the army his high appreciation of the fortitude, valor, and devotion displayed by them, which, under the blessing of Almighty God, has added the victory of Fredericksburg to the long list of their triumphs.

An arduous march, performed with celerity, under many disadvantages, exhibited the discipline and spirit of the troops and their eagerness to confront the foe.

The immense army of the enemy completed its preparation for the attack without interruption, and gave battle in its own time, and on ground of its own selection. It was encountered by less than 20,000 of this brave army, and its columns crushed and broken, hurled Back at every point with such fearful slaughter that escape from entire destruction became the boast of those who had advanced in full confidence of victory. That this great result was achieved with a loss small in point of numbers, only augments the admiration with which the commanding general regards the prowess of the troops, and increases his gratitude to Him who has given us the victory.

The war is not yet ended. The enemy is still numerous and strong, and the country demands of the army a renewal of its heroic efforts in her behalf. Nobly has it responded to her call in the past, and she will never appeal in vain to its courage and patriotism.

The signal manifestations of Divine mercy that have distinguished the eventful and glorious campaign of the year just closing give assurance of hope that, under the guidance of the same Almighty hand, the coming year will be no less fruitful of events that will insure the safety, peace, and happiness of our beloved country, and add new luster to the already imperishable name of the Army of Northern Virginia.

R. E. LEE,

SOURCES: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 21 (Serial No. 31), p. p. 549-50;  John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 220-1 which mistakenly identifies this order as General Order No. 132.

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